Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Me Cookie Monster

I have a really hard assignment for the next issue of Herbivore. I am reviewing this newer line of cookies, Nature Bake for the Review section. Life is tough. They have a limited distribution area, but you can buy them on Food Fight's website.

After dinner I brought out 2 of each for Jim and I try. The flavors we got were: oatmeal raisin, oatmeal cranberry, ginger and, of course, chocolate chip. They are SO good, the absolute best premade vegan cookies I've ever had, even better than Alternative Baking Co. So chewy and delicious... I think my faves are the chocolate chip and ginger. I've never had such a good ginger cookie before... The verdict: go to Food Fight and get some of these! You'll be so happy that you did.

Wesley is currently snoozing under the coffeetable after a long play session involving a string, a ball and a cloth mouse. We're just playing the waiting game at this point... I'll keep you all updated.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Big Salad and Kitty Update

Well, we had a loooooooong night. Because we didn't know the health status of this cat we got our guest room ready and let him in. Jim spent the night with Wesley (as we've temporarily named him) in there and I slept out with the other catkids. It was a horrible night as we were never able to get the a/c unit Jim bought up because it wasn't designed for sliding windows, just up and down ones and long story short, we were hot and miserable. It was 97 yesterday and almost 100 today. Yes, 100 in the land where no one has air conditioning. Anyway, today Wesley went to the vet where we was given a clean bill of health. Yay!

But the plot thickens, as it so often does. It seems that Wesley does have "owners", our neighbors who recently got him as an outdoor only cat and literally walk by like he doesn't exist. Now, there are a ton of stray and feral cats around here and on any given night you are woken up because of a cat fight outside of our complex. So what in god's name would inspire you to get a kitten and bring him into this madness and not take care of him? The couple are, to put it nicely, losers. After much debating about what to do, Jim went and talked to the wife and just said "hey, your kitty was on our porch today and seemed overheated so we let him in. Do you want me to bring him up?" to which she slightly stepped back like he said something repulsive and said "um, whatever, we just let him roam around. you could just let him out." The ending of this? He's hanging out in here right now and Bindhi is growling at him, because she's a fussy little brat, but the boys sniffed his butt and gave him a seal of approval. And Moussa, well, she's cleaning herself like mad right now because the heat messed up her routine last night. And for the heat, well, let's just say we managed to get the a/c unit rigged up until Jim can get proper parts to set it up in the window.

Tres chic, no? I especially like the orange tape. Makes it look all official.

So it's damn hot and we're damn stressed. We're planning on keeping Wesley until this hot spell passes and then talking to his "owners" again. I really don't think they give a damn about him, but they seem like the kind of people who might view animals as property, so we'll see what happens. For now we're loving him up like crazy!

So, as a result of the heat and laziness we had salads today! Big salads with red romaine, spinach, shredded carrot, Roma tomatoes, shredded faux chicken (left over naked nuggets from this weekend) and goddess dressing. Mmmm, very filling and delicious. We also each enjoyed a juicy nectarine and indulged in a little mocha Soy Delicious for dessert.

So that about wraps up today! Pretty nutzoid and I'm quite stressed out, but we're making the most of our foster child and trying to keep everyone happy and cool. I'll leave you with a picture of the current contender for cutest kitten of the year. (the stuff in his ears is just dirty wax. I got a bunch out today, but we know how patient kitties are about that kind of thing...)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Food Fight!

Today there was a big potluck at Food Fight so I made 2 cakes for the event.

This first cake I'm calling my summer cake because it's light and refreshing, but I can't actually title it "Summer Cake" because that's just boring. It is a simple white cake with mandarin oranges and a creamy coconut frosting. I was inspired to make a spiral with the coconut on top of it, which I then yammered on about to Jim until I think he wished he could turn my voice off. "Yes, Kris, your spiral was a very cute idea". I love baking, but decorating it isn't always my strong point, so I was pleased.

This second cake is, obviously, a Boston Cream Pie. I'm still not 100% happy with the cream filling yet, it's just not "wow". I think I'm going to try it with soy creamer and a vanilla bean next time... We shall see.

Jim and I piled our plates high with yummy goodness. This is the first vegan potluck I've been to, so it was a welcome change of pace. I'm still full, hours after eating. We then hung out in the heat (yes, it's actually gotten hot here. And we don't have air conditioning...), eating our food and watching painfully cute vegan babies run around and suck on watermelon wedges.

Now I'm going to lay around with some mocha soy ice cream and read while Jim goes out to buy a window unit air conditioner. Yay cold air!

ETA: How did I forget our little issue we have right now? There is a stray kitten that we found, about 2-3 months old. He's super cute and friendly (the nicest kitten I've ever met, actually, very gentle and sweet) and he needs a home! We can't possibly keep him and our neighborhood is full of mean, territorial toms. If anyone knows anyone in Portland that might be interested in a sweet kitten, we're taking him to the vet to get shots, checked for FIV and leukemia and to get his ears checked out (looks like mites) tomorrow. PLEASE let me know, this little guy has us just sick with worry!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A Truly Happy Meal

Jim and I were recently taking about things we loved eating when we were kids (we both grew up omni). We both loved the chicken nuggets from a certain unnameable place because they were batter-dipped, rather than breaded. Well, inspiration struck recently at Food Fight when I found veggie nuggets that weren't breaded and a packet of accidentally vegan McCormicks Batter Dip Mix. I tried to find a website for the nuggets we used, the brand in Li Ta and they are from Canada, but I couldn't find anything on them. You could easily use tempeh or even the Morningstar strips.

And so we had our adult version of a Happy Meal, but this one is truly happy. I baked a bag of Alexia rosemary and olive oil fries to accompany our nuggets and poured some sides of barbeque sauce and dijon mustard for dipping. We shared a Blue Sky rootbeer to top off what was also a truly unhealthy meal. To make up for it we went bike riding after it all settled!

I was really happy with how the nuggets turned out. Because I didn't have to cook them as long as meat (since I didn't have to finish off killing them so they wouldn't kill us) the outside got crispy fast and I was able to pull them out before any oil was able to settle in them. I used canola oil, with it being what I had laying around. I would maybe try grapeseed next time, to see how that works.

I'll leave you all with a video of Moussa playing in the (dry) bathtub. We put down newspaper as a buffer because the tub was a bit cold. Not terribly eventful, but cute nonetheless.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


I've been the late night baker lately. Not having to be at work until 11-12 is bad because I stay up until 2ish... So that means I do bad things like bake at midnight.

These are shortbread cookies. They are vanilla and chocolate sprial. Very yummy, but with an understated and delicate taste.

These were tonight's beasts: mochadamia bars. Coffee flavored bars with chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. I wish we had some soy ice cream so we could eat them ala mode...

Okay, I'm off to try to go to bed at a decent hour. Night!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Taste of India

Unintentionally, what have become the only two meals of my day where both filled with Indian spices.

For breakfast/brunch (getting up at 10:30 screws up the rest of your day, which is why you stay up until 2... not a good schedule to fall into) I made some chai oatmeal. Now, for many of you, during this terribly hot season, eating oatmeal probably sounds unbearable, but up here it's a bit chilly in the morning, so warm food is a welcome thing. I steeped a chai teabag in my oats and water, then gave it a good squeeze when the water started to absorb, added a hint of vanilla and some raisins, walnuts and a splash of maple syrup. On the side I have half a banana and couple of the strawberries pictured with last night's dinner along with some vanilla soy yogurt on top.

For dinner Jim wanted to get something ready while I was on my way home, so I talked him through making some brown basmati rice and using a jar of premade Indian food from Trader Joe's. It was just a simple veggie and lentil stew, which he thickened with some cornstarch to make it heartier. He also added a chopped and sauteed shallot, grated ginger and some chunks of potato. He also went to the grocery store and bought some accidentally vegan naan, which I then heated up and we spread a mixture of garlic and Earth Balance over.... So good...

I love Indian food, the spices make your house smell so fragrant! I wish they made garam masala incense...

Monday, June 19, 2006


Tonight was nacho night! I'm still getting into the swing of my new schedule, so I've been trying to do some quick dinner ideas. These make a fancy looking meal, but are really simple to assemble.

I start with a layer of tortilla chips, then some canned balck beans that have been rinsed, drained and heated with some cumin, garlic and a splash of oil. I would have added cilantro as well, if I'd remembered to get some at the store. On top of that is a hearty scoop of seasoned TVP, some quick guac (mash an avocado with a splash of lime juice and a hint of salt), salsa and a few dollops of Tofutti sour cream and voila! Dinner is served. This is a meal you need to eat quickly though, or your bed of chips will get soggy.

The last member of my family to be featured is little Moussa the hamster. She has been living with us for about 7 months now. We found her living on our patio in Arizona. We assume that someone who didn't want to deal with the responsibility dumped her in the park behind our patio and she was drawn to our bird seed. She's super sweet and a great little friend. She loves fresh apple or pear (organic only, of course), sunflower seeds and chasing the cats in her plastic ball, who are rather scared of her. They like to watch, but they steer clear of her!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Baking Bonanza!

This morning the ducks were hanging out below out bedroom window. So cute!

Tonight there is a movie fundraiser to raise appeals money for Josh Harper of theSHAC7. If you have not heard about the case of the SHAC I urge you to read up on it. They are a group of people who ran a website about the direct action activism against Huntington Life Sciences, the largest animal testing lab in the country. They were found guilty under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which basically means they pissed off enough people at the top of the financial food chain to piss off the gov't because HLS has been on the brink of bankruptcy several times because of the SHAC and many people in the gov't have financial involvement in the animal testing industry. Whether or not you believe in direct action, it is NECESSARY that you care about this, because they were not found guilty of doing any direct action, they were found guilty of having a website that talked about it. Last time I checked, that was free speech, but apparently since the FBI has declared that animal rights activists and environmentalists are the "next great threat to National security", our free speech is limited. They are being sentenced in September and some of them face up to 11 years in prison for simply standing up for something they believe in. If you search this, be wary of the press, as much of the media had written horribly biased articles regarding the SHAC. Again, even if you are against direct action, this affects any one with a minority opinion, gays, vegans, anyone who is small but strong in their beliefs. If you would like to help raise money for their appeals Herbivore is doing a SHAC pack , which we hope to ship this week, which includes a great shirt, some buttons, postcards and a sticker. It costs $35 and after our costs $28 will go to the SHAC. We've presold a lot of these. Show your pride and help these folks out!

Anyhow, for the fundraiser tonight I offered to cook, so here is my food for the movie night! All of these recipes will be in the book.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. These are the same ones that I made shortly before the move. They are a vegan version of my great-grandma's recipe and they are chewy rather than the traditional crumbly texture.

These are my chewy walnut brownies.

These are some cherry oatmeal cookies, with a light drizzle of icing. I use tart dried cherries so the flavor is more defined in the finished product.

These are a bite-sized version of a large lemon-almonde torte that I make. I just crave citrus this time of year.

These are cranberry apple butter cookies. They are a lighter texture and flavor for people who enjoy a more savory sweet treat.

That's it! I've been baking my heart out and now I need to jump in the shower to get ready for the show!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Spending even more money...

Ah, Portland. You shall break my bank. We got some bikes the other day (yay!) to replace the crappy ones we had in Phoenix (we donated them, they weren't that crappy, but they weren't worth taking up precious space in our cubes). So tonight we had to run to a bike shop in the SE part of Portland before they closed at 7 to pick up some parts and I was starving! We decided to stop on Belmont, which is a great strip for vegan eating and was only about 5 blocks from the bike shop. Yay! After debating between pizza and a place called The Laughing Planet, we opted for The Laughing Planet so Jim could get a burrito fix.

I probably ordered the most trailer trash entree of them all, but it looked so good! Mashed potatoes with sweet corn, broccoli and tempeh! Mmm, it was hands down the best tempeh I've ever had, it was in this delicious marinade and slightly blackened. Next time I'm going to get it in a burrito. Jim had a grilled veggie burrito with vegan sour cream and guac. The prices at The Laughing Planet were good, ambiance was nice, and the service was very friendly and knowledgeable, I think this is going to become of our "places".

This is a picture of Bindhi that I took with my phone the other day, too cute to not share! She's such a sweetie!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Night At The Deli

We had to do some running around tonight (bike shopping), so we stopped in at one of the all-vegetarian food markets for vegan deli treats. We will definitely have to go back for lunch, they have a sprawling salad bar and they had 4 vegan soups today, but they were all put away when we got there. The pot pie looking pockets are filled with artichokes, garlic and some unidentifiable yummys. The round containers have mashed potatoes and gravy and the top containers are cupcakes, black forest on the left the peanut butter swirl on the right. This picture was also taken with my phone, so it's a little washed out.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to post a picture of my new (old) bike. I have one that I might buy, depending on another one I'm looking at tomorrow morning. Old Schwinns rule!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Portland Adventures

These pictures may not look the greatest because they are off of my cell phone, but you'll get the gist of it! :)

This was from our breakfast at Bob's Red Mill. So yummy! Vegan French toast on bread they make there from the flour they mill with actual maple syrup, some fried potatoes and bisquits all served with Earth Balance. The only meat and cheese they sell in the store at Bob's is soy! It's pretty neat and cheap if you're ever here, it's in the slightly southern suburb of Milwaukie.

Yesterday while wandering around we stopped by Pizza-Agogo a pizza place in North Portland that has vegan pizza by the slice. The pizza on hand yesterday was quite yummy, with a red sauce, spinach, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, kalmata olives and (strangly) blackeyed peas. It was very good and the slices were huge! We also had some breadsticks with fresh marinara.

We ate out on the patio and while we were eating I saw this crazy looking flower behind Jim's head! Very Seussical looking, I think, with it's purple feathery petals and the little whirlywig on top of it. I had to snap a picture of it!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Into the woods... for dessert!

Tonight we had a friend of ours over for dinner. With it being our first dinner that we've hosted since we got here, I really wanted to go all out.

First thing on the agenda: if you have not gotten the Real Food Daily cookbook GO GET IT! It has the most insane seitan recipe I've ever seen, very unconventional, and it makes a load of it. It requires no kneading, is baked and involves beans. Intrigued? It's very good and I made it this morning for our dinner tonight.

But first a recap of dinner last night:

We had a simple salad with fresh greens from Josh and Michelle's garden. I just chopped up a tomato and sprinkled a little goddess dressing on them. The greens were only a few hours old and tasted wonderful. I cooked up two faux chicken patties from Food Fight with buns that I picked up from Bob's Red Mill bakery. Fast and simple and it hit the spot after a long day.

Now, on to tonight's feast:

Seitan cutlets and garlic mashed red potatoes. We also had steamed asparagus, mushroom gravy, more homemade strawberry lemonade and a mini baguette recipe-in-progress for the book. I've been making these cutlets for years, they are really simple. All you do is thinly slice the seitan and coat it with a thin layer of dijon mustard, roll it in bread crumbs and fry lightly in a bit of oil. Mmmm, delicious. The seitan recipe from the Real Food Daily book worked wonderfully. In the background you can sneak a peak at dessert...

Black Forest Cake. This will also be in the book. I'm not a huge cake person, but I really like this cake. I fear that I will be gaining much weight between now and the book coming out, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Holy Updates

Yowsa! It's been a long 2 weeks since I last wrote to you folks, but now I have the internets back at my fingertips, and faster than ever (we used to have DSL, but now we have cable).

So yes. I have a lot of catching up to do, so let me begin:

Bindhi was done with living in hotel and she was ready to settle into our new home. Here's the view from our back windows and our porch. There is a creek right below the trees. Very cool. :)

A beaver sighting on our first day!

Tempeh bacon BLT with mashed potatoes and corn. I used Isa's recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance for the bacon marinade. I haven't been a big fan of tempeh, but recently I have been craving it. So weird! So now I am really digging on it and it's becoming a staple item in my kitchen.

Turtle cheesecake from Sweet Pea Bakery, a local vegan bakery. I have tasted and made some decent vegan cheesecakes in my day, but this was incredible. Got it at Food Fight.

Breakfast! A cinnamon roll from the local vegetarian co-op (The Daily Grind) with half of a little honeydew from another local vegetarian co-op (People's). Mmmm...

Nachos! Inspired by our adventures in Palm Springs, I made some nachos. A layer of whole grain tortillas was buried in taco TVP crumbles, black beans, guac, salsa, Tofutti sour cream, Follow Your Heart cheddar cheese and black olives. Tasty...

Some homemade strawberry lemonade! I made it last night. I was looking at some at the store the other day and was reeling from the sticker shock of good organic lemonade and I realized "hey, this is just lemons and water!" It turned out good and I'm going to be making a lot more of it this summer to put in my nifty carafes.

Banana cream crepes! I made these when we were still unpacking and I was wading through boxes with limited foodstuffs available. Filled with a simple vanilla soy yogurt and banana filling.

More desserts from Sweet Pea, this time obtained from New Seasons. Chocolate Peanut Butter and Lemon Raspberry. The Chocolate Peanut Butter brought down the house.

Our first breakfast, the morning after we wearily rolled into town, with a box of pancake mix from Food Fight. Armed with little else then the basics in our "essentials" bin (a pot, a pan, untensils, one box of our new dishes, and some other assorted junk), we made a quick and easy breakfast.

Tonight was seriously gluttony night. We had the regular old pizza that I always make, but with a new crust I've been working on for the cookbook. For dessert we had a dessert pizza (which will also be in the book) with raisins, coated in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with icing. OMG, we were full. Oy.

Other things: life is good working at Herbivore. Issue 11 is possibly in many of your hands right now, so it's very busy at Herbie HQ. We are opening a store front full of assorted vegan non-edible treats this summer (think late July), so there are a lot of vegan, soy-based fish to fry before then. Portland is even more than I expected. Stores have vegan food in their delis and dessert cases. Restaurants have clearly marked options. Wait staff not only know what vegan means, but are eager to help. People wave you in to traffic. There are ducks and squirrels! Ooh, I even bought a squirrel cookie cutter last weekend that I will have to make some cookies with soon.

Also, Jim and I went on a field trip last weekend. We live minutes from Bob's Red Mill, which I'm sure many of you are familiar with. Well, the have a large visitor's center that serves breakfast and lunch and has a full store with over 300 of their products. They also sell other assorted kitchen gadgets and cookbooks, including a section on vegan cooking. AND, they have a completely seperate vegetarian menu with vegan options clearly marked. We had a lovely breakfast then I went nuts at the store. It was a very good thing.

So, I'm pretty tired and rambling at this point, but I wanted to give you all a little rundown. We have been enjoying some restaurants too and I just got a new phone with a camera so I'll have no more excuses to not have pictures of our food when we eat out.

Thanks for all the support and I'll talk to you soon!